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Microchipping Animals:

 

The veterinary staff should encourage all animals to be microchipped, particularly dogs, cats, parrots, and horses.  Microchipping serves many purposes, especially in emergency situations:

  • Microchips provide an opportunity to reunite pets and owners quickly.  Animal Control Officers will be provided with "wands" with which to scan for microchips.  If a microchip is located, the wand will provide owner and address information. Officers could then return the animal to the owner rather than transporting the animal to the facility.

  • In addition to quickly reuniting animals and owners, the ability to identify animals by microchip will also assist the section by saving space, food, time, and effort that are often expended on animals being held in the facility.

  • Recent weather related incidents demonstrated that animals can be quickly separated from their homes and owners and, often times, at a separation of great distances.  Microchipping aided in those scenarios, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, by identifying animals and their owners quickly and reuniting them safely with minimal cost, time and effort.

 

The following document can be used as a resource to encourage animal owners to microchip their pets.

 

 

Microchipping

 

     It is always sad to see a flyer stapled to a signpost or on a bulletin board at the grocery store with a picture of a lost Snuggles or Scruffy. You imagine a child waiting for the phone to ring, hoping that some kind person happens to find his kitty and see his flyer. Sadly, once a pet is lost, the odds are against her finding her way home again. According to the American Humane Association, only about seventeen percent of lost dogs and two percent of cats ever find their way back from shelters to their original owners. Almost 20 million pets are euthanized every year because their owners cannot be found. There are ways to beat these odds though, and they are a little higher-tech than the nametag and collar you are used to. To give your pet the best chance to be identified, no matter how far he roams, have him implanted with a microchip.

 

     Tags and collars are a good start—they are certainly better than no ID at all—but they are not 100 percent dependable. Tags can fade, rust, or get scratched and be impossible to read. Collars can tear or slip off, or even worse, get caught on something while your pet is wandering in the wilderness and hurt or kill him. With microchipping, on the other hand, a veterinarian injects a tiny computer chip—about the size of a grain of rice—just under your pet's skin, between the shoulder blades. Then the number on the computer chip is entered in an international database, like the Central Animal Registry or PETtrac. If your dog or cat is found, any animal hospital, shelter, or humane society can use a microchip reader to read the unique ID number contained on the chip. The veterinarian or worker then calls the database, or accesses it on the computer, and enters the number given off by the microchip. The database matches the number to your name and phone number. The chip cannot be lost or damaged, and it lasts for the pet's lifetime.

 

The microchip is convenient, safe, and reliable, but it still is not as popular in the US as it is in Canada and Great Britain. Though many veterinarians and animal shelters are actively working to inform their clients about microchipping, there are still a number of myths keeping pet owners from microchipping their pets.

 

The myth: The implantation procedure is too expensive.

 

The truth: While the price can vary from one veterinarian to another, it often falls between $25 and $40. A lot of veterinarians will charge even less if they perform the implantation at the same time as another procedure, like spaying, neutering, or dental work. It is a one-time fee; the chip never needs maintenance or replacement. There may be a fee, generally under $20, to enter your pet's ID number in a database, and there may be a small fee for changing your address, phone number, or other contact information in the database. Still, microchip identification is cheaper than making flyers, calling around town, and taking time off work to find a lost pet.

 

The myth: It is going to hurt my pet to get the chip implanted.

 

The truth: The procedure is simple, routine, and painless, and it does not require any anesthesia. Your pet simply gets an injection just under the loose skin between the shoulder blades; it is a lot like getting vaccinated. Most animals do not react at all.

 

The myth: They could not possibly give every pet with a microchip a unique number. My pet's number will be duplicated.

 

The truth: The way technology works today, these tiny microchips can hold huge amounts of information. In fact, the microchips are designed to produce 275 billion different identification numbers. On top of that, manufacturers add unique product codes and manufacturer's codes to identify their chips. With all the possible combinations of product codes and ID numbers, there are more than enough numbers to make sure every pet has a completely unique number.

 

The myth: Most shelters and veterinarians do not have microchip readers, so they will not be able to identify my pet.

 

The truth: It is true that a microchip will not work to identify your pet unless your pet comes in contact with a microchip reader, and there are some shelters and veterinarians in the US that do not have readers yet. (In Canada, almost all the animal control services and veterinarians have readers.) But the three main microchip manufacturers offer microchip readers to humane societies, shelters, and veterinarians for free or for a small fee. Until recently, each brand of microchip could only be read by its own brand of microchip reader. Recently, though, universal readers that will read several brands of microchips have been made available to the shelter community. Ask your veterinarian, you are nearby humane society or shelter, or the animal control department in your area whether they have microchip readers readily available. If not, encourage them to get the readers. Of course, to be sure your pets will be returned to you, you should identify them as many ways as you can, with a tag, a microchip, and even a tattoo.

 

The myth: Eventually, the microchip will wear out and I will have to have it replaced.

 

The truth: The chip does not have an internal battery or power source. Most of the time it is inactive. When the microchip reader is passed over it, it gets enough power from the reader to transmit the pet's ID number. Since there's no battery and no moving parts, there's nothing to wear out or replace. The microchip will last throughout your pet's lifetime.

 

The myth: My cat never goes outside. She does not need to have a microchip ID.

 

The truth: It is wonderful that you are keeping your pet safe inside, but a guest or a repair person could easily leave the door hanging open, or a screen could come loose from an open window. Unaltered pets in particular will take any chance to roam. There is a possibility that your house could be damaged in heavy storm, flood, or other natural disaster, causing your cat to run away in fear. Pets can even be stolen-particularly birds and exotic or purebred animals. No matter how closely you watch your favorite animal friend, there is always a chance she could get out, and if she does not have any ID, it will be extremely hard to find her.

 

The myth: If someone else ever tries to claim my pet, the microchip ID number will not hold up in court.

 

The truth: This issue has not actually come up in a court of law yet. However, a microchip ID number is unique, it cannot be changed, and it links a pet to its owner through an international database. It works a lot like the serial numbers that link vehicles, stereos, TV sets, and other valuable possessions to their owners. The American and Canadian Kennel Clubs have recognized microchipping as definitive proof of a dog's identity and ownership, and accept microchip identification to register purebred dogs. If you own a very valuable pet, or if you are afraid there might be a question about who has custody of your pet, microchip identification could be a big help.

 

The myth: It is not safe for my dog to have a foreign object inside his body.

 

The truth: Veterinarians have been implanting microchips in animals for years, and the process has been proven to be very safe. The chip is made out of an inert, biocompatible substance, which means it will not cause an allergic reaction in your furry friend, and it will not degenerate over time. The first versions of the microchip would sometimes migrate from where they were injected, but manufacturers now design the chips with anti-migrating properties. When they are implanted properly, today's chips will not migrate. Once they are in place, they will not move around or get near any delicate tissues or organs. You can help make sure the microchip heals securely by keeping your pet calm and quiet for the 24 hours following injection. Because the microchip is placed just under the skin and not internally, microchip reading is completely safe as well.

 

     Microchipping is safe, effective, durable, and dependable, but it cannot absolutely guarantee that a lost pet will be found. The best way to keep your pet safe is to use more than one form of identification. Microchips are long lasting and a wonderful means of identification, but there is a chance a shelter will not have a reader, so a tattoo would be an effective backup form of identification. If kind strangers find your dog in the street, on the other hand, they will not have a reader handy to check for a microchip and will not know where to call to match an animal’s tattoo to an owner. A tag with your name and address would let them bring your pet right back to your door. Another possibility would be a tag that informs readers that your pet has been microchipped and/or tattooed and gives them the number to call to reach the ID number database. There’s always the possibility that one kind of identification could fail, but if your pet has two or three kinds of ID, there’s a good chance that at least one will help bring her home to you. Talk to your veterinarian about the best types of identification for your pet.

 

     In a perfect world, leashes, fences, and doors would be enough to keep your pet safe at home. In the real world, accidents happen, and your pet depends on you to protect her against the things that could go wrong. With a little effort now, you can take a big step toward ensuring that your furry friend will be with you in the future.

 

 

Image: Inserting a micro-chip into animal

Image: Scanning a animal for micro-chip

 

Text Box: Inserting a microchip 
into an animal

  

 

 

For more information:

 

http://www.healthypet.com/library_view.aspx?ID=78

 

http://www.identidog.com/about/default.aspx

 

 

 
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